Friday, October 30, 2015

Customer: Should we do a POC?

Asked by a customer recently whether they should do a POC or not.

Here is my response:
  • Do in a POC the things that are most important for your business and your project
  • Do POCs only with the vendor who is in a position to deliver what you need. 
  • Only do a POC if you need to. Many major businesses find much better ways to evaluate their alternatives than doing a POC in their environment. 
  • A good POC should not be a trial run or test install or pilot. 
First of all, a POC is to show that there is business value in doing a project. Running a long evaluation of a product to check that every feature does what it is meant to won't get you to your business goal (unless you are in the business of running evaluations).
It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to create a test implementation or product QA lab and think you are doing some beneficial POC for your project.  However usually there is some key reason you are looking at a product.  If the product is able to show that it fulfills this key requirement then usually it is a successful POC.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Challenger Customer and Sales Engineers

I am right in the middle of reading "The Challenger Customer" which is the successor to The Challenger Sale.  One problem with the Challenger Sale book was that it focused on what the Sales team can do, and on our perspective, but of course this misses the big picture where the Customer is really the key decision making party.


The Challenger Customer picks up from this point and looks at how we can change the approach, and is of interest both to customers and buying teams, and to sales teams.

One of the concepts I found really important is that the different people and roles they play in the decision making process, and the fact that it is not obvious which people play the greatest role in helping make decisions in favour of vendors offering solutions of value to more than one group.  Identifying the different roles people play in decision making processes, and winning over multiple different people based not only on the overall benefit, but also the individual benefit to their group.

 As Sales Engineers, often we find ourselves forced in premature demos or Proof of Concepts, rather than getting a better view of requirements from each team first.  Reading the Challenger Sale could help you understand from the customer perspective what goes on in the decision making process, and how you can help customers make better decisions.